Updated on Oct 8, 2021
If you are looking at this post then it means that you have cleared 90% of hurdles in your journey towards studying in US. Congratulations for that and we wish you good luck for your future adventures!
You are going to spend the coming few months planning various things leading to your journey. Your insurance should be one of the top most points in your list. In this blog, we will tell you all about travel and health insurance for international students studying in the USA.
Students travelling to the US for higher studies have to procure a study visa. This visa is mainly of two types: F-visa and M Visa. While F Via is for students going for academic studies, M visa is for those who want to engage in non-academic or vocational study or training in any of the US institutions.
Of all the types, F1 visa is the one that is needed for pursuing full time programs at the US Universities.
International students are required to get insurance especially as some universities may deem it as an essential requirement for admission. In case your university/ college has no such requirement you must determine the best choice for yourself.
Medical insurance in the US is made mandatory by the U.S. Department of State only for J visa holders. The visa is meant for visitors coming to the US to participate in an exchange visitor program.
Before we discuss the best insurance for international students in USA options, let me tell you why it is so important to get insurance.
A student should ideally get two types of insurance before starting out their program at any of the US universities- travel and health.
Travel Insurance: As the name suggests, travel insurance protects you against any kind of risks that they might face during your journey abroad. Therefore, in order to protect you and your belongings during a trip from your home country to the US, travel insurance is a must.
Health Insurance: The other is US health insurance for international students. The United States does not have a nationalised healthcare system, like in many nations. Therefore, individuals have to pay for their own treatment out of pocket in case they don’t have an insurance plan. This cost of healthcare for international students in US can be really high and pose a substantial financial risk to the students. A good health insurance plan is thus very important. It provides you cover for any medical expenses you may have while you are actually living and studying in the United States.
Travel insurance is a topic garners different opinions from different people. While many people believe it is quite essential, others don’t feel the need for it. Unless you have 100 percent confidence in your destiny, it would be a wise option to get a good travel insurance plan.
Many people travelling to US from India end up losing their luggage or getting it delayed for several reasons. So it is best to have travel insurance. In case such a thing happens to you, your travel insurance plan will reimburse you generously.
A good Travel insurance plan will cost you around INR 1500 covering a period of 2-3 weeks. You are going to spend more than 1000 times that amount in the coming two years of your education, so this cost is nothing in comparison to that!
Private Healthcare in the United States is very expensive and the access to low-cost public healthcare, very limited. Also, international students are many times not eligible for public healthcare programs. US health insurance for international students is therefore a must.
Health insurance is as good as mandatory for everyone and is in your best interests. The US healthcare system is very different and way more sophisticated than the healthcare system in India, which makes deciding your medical insurance even more important. So, let us understand what options you have for the best health insurance for international students in USA.
Before deciding on the best health insurance for international students in USA, you must first acquaint yourself with the options available. Your main options are:
This is probably the cheapest health insurance for international students in USA but would be least efficient. Now the problem with these insurance plans would be the claiming process.
Let us assume that you are an Indian student who has bought a health insurance plan from an Indian company. Being an Indian insurance company, passing your claim would have its own set to hassles. On top of that it becomes very expensive when it comes to basic treatment. As these insurances have very high deductibles (You can pass your claim and request reimbursement only when your expense is more than the deductible amount.) Suppose the deductible amount is $100 for your plan then any expenses you make towards healthcare below $100 goes from your pocket. So yeah for small issues, it is as good as useless.
Several U.S. universities offer and sometimes make it mandatory for international applicants to take a school-sponsored insurance plan. Usually universities have two options: Basic Plan and Complete plan. The latter covers each and every medical expense right from treatment for a viral flu to some major accident. Everything gets covered by this insurance plan at your University’s health center. But there is a catch. Usually they will cost you a fortune. These plans are extremely expensive.
For example, talking about University of Colorado Boulder, it has a Gold Insurance plan that costs you somewhere around $1600 a semester. They also have another insurance plan called campus care that covers basic ailments and costs around $175 a semester but by itself it is not sufficient. Some universities like USC also offer a consolidated-on campus insurance plan which does not cost this much. So, the insurance cost and plan mainly depend on what your university has to offer.
Among all the other options, this is one of the best health insurances for international students in USA. Some of the private insurance companies have really good and affordable insurance plans, especially for students. We would recommend ISOA. It is one of the most efficient and cheapest health insurances for international students in USA. It specializes in student insurance plans.
Most international students in the US prefer this insurance plan. It has coverage across almost all major universities in the US. The compass silver plan that the majority of US students opts for costs you hardly $31 a month. It is quite a nominal deal. Only problem with having this insurance plan by itself is that although it has very less deductibles, it will still cost you a bit for basic treatment.
As far as all the options go, this is the best health insurance for students in USA. It will end up saving you a ton of money along with covering all your medical expenses. Now here if your university is offering a basic plan then take it along with the private insurance plan provided by companies like ISOA.
So you can use the basic college plan for minor ailments and use the third party insurance plan for any major issues. For example, here at the University of Colorado Boulder, this is what almost all of us opt for. The basic campus care plan costs us $175 a semester while ISOA plan costs us $31 a month. Great deal, Isn’t it? It is by far the cheapest and most efficient option for you that will cover everything and makes it as good as free.
Health care insurance is very important in the US, especially from a financial point of view for international students. So, evaluate your study USA health insurance options properly and opt for the one that suits you best.
Hope it helps. Good luck!
Q. Do International Students Need Health Insurance to Get a F1 Visa?
A. The U.S. Department of State does not require students to get health insurance for F1 Visa.
Q. When should international students Get Health Insurance?
A. It is best to get your insurance as soon as possible so that you are covered as soon as you set foot in the United States.
Q. What is the cost of health insurance for international students in US?
A. The cost of health insurance for international students depends on a number of factors including the period of study and type of coverage, among other things. The approximate cost for an annual insurance plan can range anywhere between 500-1000 USD.
Q. Is it mandatory to take health insurance from the university?
A. Some universities may make it mandatory to take the insurance plan from them. Check with your university before finalising the plan.
Q. What does the Health Insurance plan for International Students cover?
A. The coverage depends on the type of insurance you have. However, the basic coverage includes -
Out-patient medical treatment i.e., for cases when there is no need for hospitalisation
In-Patient treatment i.e., when you have to spend a night at the hospital.
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